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Schwarz Rot Gold: The Colors of the Germ ...

Schwarz Rot Gold: The Colors of the German Flag

Mar 18, 2021

Do you know why Germany’s national colors are 𝗦𝗰𝗵𝘄𝗮𝗿𝘇-𝗥𝗼𝘁-𝗚𝗼𝗹𝗱 (black-red-gold)? It is not clear where exactly the colors come from but we do know that they make their first appearance in the early 19th century.

Lützow's Free Corps

During the Wars of Liberation (𝗕𝗲𝗳𝗿𝗲𝗶𝘂𝗻𝗴𝘀𝗸𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗴𝗲) 1813-1815 against Napoleon, the Lützow’s Free Corps (𝗙𝗿𝗲𝗶𝗸𝗼𝗿𝗽𝘀 𝗟𝘂̈𝘁𝘇𝗼𝘄) wore black uniforms with red lapels and golden buttons. When they founded the 𝗝𝗲𝗻𝗮𝗲𝗿 𝗨𝗿𝗯𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗳𝘁 (original student league/fraternity Jena) in 1815, they used a black and red flag with golden decoration. It is said that the black-red-gold tricolor developed from this. A saying from the time of the Wars of Liberation underlines the usage of the three colors and their meaning of fighting for freedom and unity:

“𝗔𝘂𝘀 𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗦𝗰𝗵𝘄𝗮̈𝗿𝘇𝗲 (𝘀𝗰𝗵𝘄𝗮𝗿𝘇) 𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗞𝗻𝗲𝗰𝗵𝘁𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗳𝘁 𝗱𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗵 𝗯𝗹𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗴𝗲 (𝗿𝗼𝘁) 𝗦𝗰𝗵𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗵𝘁𝗲𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝗴𝗼𝗹𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗲 (𝗴𝗼𝗹𝗱) 𝗟𝗶𝗰𝗵𝘁 𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗙𝗿𝗲𝗶𝗵𝗲𝗶𝘁.”

From the blackness/darkness (black) of the subjugation through bloody (red) battles to the golden (gold) light of freedom.

Hambach Festival 1832

At the Hambach Festival (𝗛𝗮𝗺𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗙𝗲𝘀𝘁) in May of 1832, students wore black-red-gold cockades and flags with the three colors could be seen. The 30,000 participants demanded German unity, freedom and democracy.

March Revolution 1848/49

The call for unity and freedom was even louder during the 𝗠𝗮̈𝗿𝘇𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗼𝗹𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 1848/49 (March Revolution). Here the flag and its colors became symbols of national unity and civil liberties. Under these pressures, the parliament in Frankfurt on March 9th, 1848 decided that black-red-gold were going to be the national colors of the German Confederation (𝗗𝗲𝘂𝘁𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗕𝘂𝗻𝗱). The black-red-gold flag was first raised on March 23rd, 1848.

Weimar Republic and the two Germanys

The flag was also the official flag of the Weimar Republic 1919-1933, and again for West Germany starting in 1949. The GDR (DDR) used the same colors and flag but from 1953 until 1990 it also had a hammer and compass encircled by rye on its official flag.

Flag Days

There are eight days on which the German flag has to be flown from public buildings. German Unity Day on October 3rd, and Day of Labor on May 1st are the only public holidays.

  • January 27th: Commemoration Day for Victims of National Socialism

  • May 1st: Day of Labor (𝗧𝗮𝗴 𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗔𝗿𝗯𝗲𝗶𝘁)

  • May 9th: Europe Day (𝗘𝘂𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗮𝘁𝗮𝗴)

  • May 23rd: Constitution Day (𝗚𝗿𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗴𝗲𝘀𝗲𝘁𝘇𝘁𝗮𝗴)

  • June 17th: Anniversary of the 17th of June 1953 (Before the reunification, June 17th was 𝗧𝗮𝗴 𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗗𝗲𝘂𝘁𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗘𝗶𝗻𝗵𝗲𝗶𝘁 and a public holiday. It commemorates the uprising in East Germany and East Berlin.)

  • July 20th: Anniversary of the 20th of July 1944 (attempted assassination of Hitler)

  • October 3rd: Day of German Unity since 1990 (𝗧𝗮𝗴 𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗗𝗲𝘂𝘁𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗘𝗶𝗻𝗵𝗲𝗶𝘁)

  • 2nd Sunday before Advent: People's Day of Mourning (𝗩𝗼𝗹𝗸𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗮𝘂𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗴)


For more information and pictures, click here.

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